I love to can food. It’s one of those things that makes me feel all domestic and competent and old-timey. I first tried it two years ago, when my friend and I attempted crushed tomatoes. At first I was seriously apprehensive at the prospect of preparing the jars and processing the finished product. I read and re-read the instructions, including dire warnings about botulism and acidity and how you can kill yourself and your family if you’re not careful. And then I decided that if I wanted to do it, the best thing was to just jump right in.
Since my first foray into crushed tomatoes I have also canned pears, applesauce, pickles and lots and lots of jam. I have canned with a friend, by myself, and with screaming children for company. I have opened each jar with trepidation. Would it be good? Would I poison my friends and family? I am thankful to say that no illness or death has occurred as a result of my canning, and that in general the food I’ve canned has been delicious. I totally rock the food preservation, yo!
A week and a half ago I returned to crushed tomatoes. While our daughters were at preschool my friend and I and our two babies put away 40 pounds of canning tomatoes. Although, truth be told the babies didn’t exactly pull their weight. But we managed, and we got 42 pints of tomatoes as a reward. Look at how impressive they are, all lined up on my kitchen counter:
If you are interested in canning, or food preservation of any kind, I highly recommend the USDA Publications. Read them, get your bearings, and give it a try. It’s not as hard as it looks, I promise. And there are few things quite as satisfying as a shelf in your garage, full of food you made. It fulfills all of my natural impulses to prepare for the winter, and it makes me smile when I eat the food many months later. Because it’s mine, you know?
I like taking responsibility for my own food like this. I know exactly what is in it. There’s nothing genetically modified in my tomatoes. No BPA lining the jars. And while it’s kind of a shift in thinking for someone like me who’s used to buying my food in neat little containers at the grocery store, it’s a good kind of shift. A shift towards understanding what I’m eating and where it came from. And I like it.
Do you can, or preserve food in other ways? If so, what’s your favourite thing to squirrel away for later?